I was a libertarian for years. I gave it up for Lent. I reject Libertarianism because I truly believe it’s just word games and incoherent sentiment at best and not a real philosophy.
Libertarians want us to believe we can have a minimal government or no-government society. The first is nebulous and ill-defined, and the second is impossible. Libertarianism also contains unresolvable logical contradictions in its premises. Two thought experiments help demonstrate this:
- People who do not raise or care for their children properly are the #1 source of everyday crime. They themselves don’t have to be criminals, they can just be terrible parents. Or they might be violent, abandoning, or neglectful parents. Or parents who die. They may even be parents who encourage their children to commit crime. And so, especially if they’re poor, those kids will grow up illiterate and violent and manipulative and feral–the kind who commit most violent crime and fraud and go on to have more feral children. So while your ideal libertarian community may hum along OK for a while, what will you do with the feral children who inevitably arise from horrible parenting? I submit you will have to punish them, drive them out of your community, kill them, educate them, or imprison them. Will you dispense this justice on the feral children on an ad hoc, voluntary basis? Or will you be making rules about that, and appointing people whose job it is to dispense that remedy?
- It’s all about voluntary association? OK. I wish to establish Catholic Village Inc. We are going to buy 90% of the property in the area you live, and 50,000 Catholics from Mexico and Poland will be moving in. There will be daily very loud Mariachi and Polka music, fireworks, street markets, and chuchbells on Sunday–right there where you live right now, all at once. Most of us won’t speak your language, we’ve decided to go all-Latin all the time. Also, we will establish covenants so no Non-Catholics will ever be sold these houses we just bought, so it’s Catholicland where you live now and for the rest of your life unless you move away. Also our Parish will build sidewalks but Atheists and Protestants have to pay a fee to use our sidewalks because we don’t like them (discount for Eastern Orthodox). Also, no commerce on Sundays within the commercial zone we own, we don’t approve. Also, the communication companies will need to remove all internet lines crossing our property, that Internet has porn on it.
In the case of #1, guess what? You either like vigilante justice or you like government. You may also want to ask yourself this: if you choose to educate the kids (even most diehard individualist libertarians will usually admit SOMEBODY needs to educate the kids, famous Pink Floyd songs aside), which consistent and principled set of values will you be teaching them? Besides how to hustle for money and have (supposedly) safe sex that is?
In the case #2, my fictitious Catholic Village Inc.? You either lied when you said libertarianism is about free association, OR, you invoke some sort of higher authority to say we can’t build Catholic Village Inc. Which is it?
Please give no roundabout answers here, and no lectures about “True Libertarianism” or telling me what books to read. Give me cogent responses to these, please.
NB: Don’t accuse me of proselytizing my own religion. For all their great cultural differences with us, Socrates would have said this, and Taoist philosophers would too: you cannot dismiss God. The problem of Libertarianism is rooted in its worship of The Market or The Individual, while it declares The Devil to be “the State” or “Collectivism.” This is why I tell people unironically Libertarianism is ultimately a Materialist Atheist philosophy, and all Materialist Atheist philosophies have some variation of this problem. Libertarianism is “neutral” on God and thus neutral on any predictably objective values except for market forces plus whatever can be arbitrarily declared “nonviolent” at any given moment by any given individual. This is because it enthrones the Individual where our ultimate sense of virtue is supposed to come from. Marxist Atheists just go the other way and enthrone “The Masses” or”Progress” or “Equality” where that objective idea of right and wrong are supposed to go. Either way it’s Utopian nonsense, and is truly more sentiment than sensible.
As a Christian I think Distributism is the best answer. But that’s the subject of another essay.